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Scottish Cup | 1986 Revisited

January 6, 2016 10:00 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

1986 | Master Class from the Dons

RedTV Archive | to watch extended highlights of the 1986 Scottish Cup Final please click here

Had it not been for a controversial Scottish Cup semi-final replay defeat against Dundee Utd at Tynecastle in 1985, Aberdeen would have been creating a new cup record that even the Old Firm could not come close to achieving. The Dons began their 1980’s Scottish Cup crusade with a 4-1 win over Rangers at Hampden. It was a symbolic victory in many ways as Aberdeen had at last crushed their cup final bogey against their Ibrox rivals and built on their league success of 1980. After retaining the cup in 1983 with another win over Rangers (1-0 the game become infamous because of Alex Ferguson post-match interview), Aberdeen made club history with a third win a year later against Celtic. After losing their first Scottish Cup tie in four years against Dundee Utd in 1985, Aberdeen went on to win the cup for the fourth time in five seasons in 1986.

Under Alex Ferguson the Dons had broken a number of club records, but their love affair with the Scottish Cup and the big games at Hampden was a constant factor during those heady days.
The Dons road to Hampden in 1986 was relatively straight forward; with success in the League Cup in October against Hearts Edinburgh rivals Hibernian, Aberdeen were also through to the last eight of the European Champions Cup. Their campaign in the Scottish Cup was unique in that all opponents were from the east coast; Montrose, Arbroath, Dundee, Hibernian and cup final adversaries Hearts.

For several months it was the Tynecastle side that looked the more likely team to succeed as they went so close to winning the title that year. Aberdeen for once were a bit off the pace in the league, but they were still looking to secure a first ever domestic cup double with success in the Scottish Cup.

The teams had already met on a number of occasions that season.

The Dons had beaten Hearts 1-0 on Wednesday 4th September at Pittodrie in a League Cup Quarter Final and then the following Saturday the teams met again at Pittodrie in the League, the Dons winning comfortably this time 3-0. However in a midweek game in October at Tynecastle Hearts won 1-0 and the Edinburgh club recorded the same score line in a big match in mid-January at Pittodrie as their momentum towards a league title gathered pace.

By the time Aberdeen had beaten Hibernian 3-0 at Dens Park to reach their fourth final in five years, Aberdeen had been knocked out of the European Champions Cup at the Quarter Final stage by an impressive Gothenburg side. With Hearts continuing to close in on an unlikely league title, Aberdeen could afford the luxury of preparing for the final with the pressure off for once. Aberdeen gave notice of their intent in a 1-1 draw against Hearts at Tynecastle in what was the first live televised league game in Scotland. Playing with little pressure, Aberdeen almost dented Hearts championship hopes.

The final day of the league season was very significant ahead of the final. And it was one of the most remarkable in the history of Scottish football.

Aberdeen travelled to an already relegated Clydebank with a virtual reserve team as Brian Irvine made his first team debut in a 6-0 stroll for the Dons. It was the ideal, almost relaxed approach that Alex Ferguson had deployed to great effect in the build up to the big matches.

The Dons opponents on the other hand could not have had a more devastating time of it. Travelling to Dens Park on the final day looking to avoid defeat to clinch a deserved Premier League title, it seemed that Hearts at last were about to lay a long standing bogey that had hung over the club since 1965 when they lost the title on the last day at home to Kilmarnock.

However history repeated itself in dramatic fashion. Two very late Dundee goals and with Celtic hammering five past a very poor St Mirren at Paisley it meant that Hearts had lost the title on the last day. A fate that was to hit the Dons just a couple of years later. 

It would have been the fourth season in a row that the League trophy was kept out of Glasgow.

The general feeling was that such a crushing blow would have an effect on the Hearts players. While the noises coming out of Tynecastle were to the contrary, there was little doubt that such a crushing defeat had a huge bearing on the final.

Aberdeen were by now masters at the big occasion with a team full of experienced players who had seen it all before. Hampden was literally a second home for Aberdeen back then, while Hearts visits to the national stadium were few and far between. The ring of confidence that oozed from the Pittodrie party was evident from the start of the game. Alex Ferguson knew that Hearts would be vulnerable from the kick off and his team began in whirlwind fashion.

The Dons scored with their first meaningful attack after five minutes. Willie Miller played a long ball from the back and found John Hewitt in splendid isolation about 30 yards from the Hearts goal. Hewitt turned and moved towards the Hearts goal unchallenged. As the Hearts defenders stood still, Hewitt unleashed a ferocious shot which gave Hearts keeper Smith no chance. That opening goal rocked the Tynecastle side and Aberdeen went on to use all of their big match experience to control the game.

Despite Neil Berry coming close with a shot that came back off the bar and a John Robertson lob that went just over, that was as close as Hearts came to scoring. The second goal came four minutes after the break and was worthy of winning any final, and epitomised the Dons slick approach. It was John Hewitt who finished off a classic Aberdeen move. Peter Weir started the move on the left and his clever cross was superbly dummied by Frank McDougall. Hewitt anticipated his partner’s move and moved in to slot the ball home. In the 75th minute Weir set up the Dons third goal as his cross was headed past Smith by substitute Billy Stark.

In a day of misery for a Hearts was compounded midway through the second half when captain Walter Kidd was sent off after a second booking as it all became too much for the experienced defender.

The depth of talent at Pittodrie was shown as striker Eric Black had been sensationally dropped by Alex Ferguson after he intimated that he was moving to France in the summer. Once again Aberdeen had risen to the occasion as their love affair with the Scottish Cup continued.

Scottish Cup Final
At Hampden Park 10th May 1986
Aberdeen 3:0 Hearts
Scorers; Hewitt 2, Stark 
ABERDEEN: Leighton, McKimmie, McQueen, McMaster (Stark), McLeish, W Miller, Hewitt (J Miller), Cooper, McDougall, Bett, Weir.
HEARTS: Smith, Kidd, Jardine, Levein, Whittaker, G Mackay, Berry, Black, Colquhoun, Clark, Robertson Substitutes: Cowie, B MacKay
Attendance; 62,841      

Also in the news in May 1986
2 May – The physical game show Takeshi's Castle first airs on the Tokyo Broadcasting System.
3 May – Sandra Kim from Belgium wins the Eurovision Song Contest in Bergen, Norway with her song J'aime la vie.
5 May – Liverpool win the Football League First Division title for a record 16th time after winning 1-0 at Chelsea. Kenny Dalglish, in his first season as the club's player-manager, scores the goal which gives Liverpool the title.
10 May – The first all-Merseyside FA Cup final ends in a 3–1 win for Liverpool over Everton, who become only the third team that century to win the double.
25 May – Hands Across America: At least 5,000,000 people form a human chain from New York City to Long Beach, California, to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness.
27 May – The game credited as setting the template for role-playing video games, Dragon Quest, is released in Japan.
28 May – Pingu premieres in Switzerland.
31 May – The 1986 FIFA World Cup begins in Mexico with Alex Ferguson managing the Scotland team.


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